Summer is coming to a close and that means that tomato season is almost over. While I am ready for the heat to subside, I’m not ready for tomato season to end. Although tomato season varies across the country, it generally runs from June through September. In order to maximize tomato season for as long as possible, I love to create dishes that showcase their wonderful flavor. This linguine with tomatoes, basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano keeps things simple and allows the fresh ingredients to shine.
In Southern California, we have accessibility to numerous farmer’s markets year round. They are typically teaming with tomatoes and other fresh vegetables this time of year. I typically pick up several tomatoes while I’m shopping at one of our local markets because they are super fresh and delicious. All I have to do is set them on my counter, away from direct sunlight for up to two days and voila, you have unbelievably ripe tomatoes with that concentrated, vibrant flavor you are looking for. I only suggest using in season, fresh tomatoes for this recipe because the tomatoes are the highlight of the dish. However, not everyone lives in an area that is abundant with farmer’s markets or you just may not have time to visit one. If that is the case and you must use store-bought tomatoes, please use these storage tips to make sure they are optimal for cooking:
- Ripe tomatoes should be kept on the counter, out of sunlight at room temperature. It is best if they are stem side up and not touching. These should be eaten within two days.
- While I would typically tell you never to store tomatoes in the refrigerator, overripe tomatoes are the exception. When your tomatoes are very red in color and very soft to the touch, the cold air will keep them from ripening and you should be able to get two to three more days out of them. Bring to room temperature before use.
- Unripe tomatoes that are green in color should be stored in a paper bag, stem side up in a cool area until they turn red and ripen.
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1 3/4 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped (about 5 cups)
- 1 pound linguine
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 12 basil leaves, torn
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
- Kosher salt
- In a large skillet warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, until they start to break down and most of the liquid evaporates. Add 2 tablespoons water to the pan, remove from heat.
- In a large pot of well salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to the package instructions until 2 minutes shy of al dente; drain.
- Toss the linguini into the skillet with the tomatoes, butter and basil. Cook over medium heat until the pasta is just al dente, 1 to 2 minutes. Toss in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and season to taste with salt. You may add more pasta water if the sauce seems dry.
- Divide the pasta between four plates or bowls and finish each with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of cheese.
This dish is perfect for a busy weeknight but is elegant enough for guests. It’s perfect served with crusty bread and my Italian Chopped Salad on the side and my Tangerine Cake for dessert. I love the fresh, vibrant flavors that shine in this recipe. It is one of my go-to recipes in the summer and it never fails. I hope you are able to squeeze one or two more tomato dishes in before the season is officially over and I hope you try this linguine with tomatoes, basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano that keeps things simple and allows the fresh ingredients to shine.